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December 22, 76AD, evening (after The hunt begins)

In retrospect, they could have tried to find a bigger place for this, Lucius thought. They barely fit inside Alexius' apartment, and his son was not even home yet. But it was still better than nothing, and the place was inconspicuous enough not to raise any suspicion of the ragtag gathering of slaves, freedmen, plebeians, and one former patrician. They really looked like an unexpected group of people as they all filed in. Lucius, still in his vigiles uniform (he had to go on patrol while the others looked for more clues, and he jut got back for the evening). Alexius, the ex-gladiator, towering over the rest of them. Jason, the imperial body slave, and his cousin, the mute charioteer, who was leaning against a wall with his arms folded, sizing up everyone. A girl - Didia? - who had been attacked by the killer, and apparently also lived next door. And she brought another, soft-spoken older man along, who introduced himself as Theodorus. Medicus for a ludus, apparently. Well, Lucius thought, there was a possibility that a medicus' services were needed before this was all over.

Lucius had brought some wine for everyone, and also a rolled-up map of the city. It was a little dated, and barely marked more than the main streets and the regions, but it was the best he could rustle up on a short notice. He also had a new writing tablet, instead of the one he'd borrowed.

"Is this everyone?..." he asked, glancing around at the assembled people. How were they even... supposed to do this? "I know we don't all know each other, but apparently we have a common enemy. Someone who has hurt... and killed... a lot of people." he glanced at Didia, and cleared his throat. "Someone no one has paid attention to, or connected the dots, for too long. And we need to find him, fast. Before he hurts someone else."

@Sara @Atrice @Sharpie

 

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Jason found himself almost squashed into a corner; he was pretty much the shortest person in the room, Azarion and a girl he didn't know being the only exceptions (and she was probably fractionally taller than him anyway).

To be fair, he didn't know most of the people here, Azarion being the only person he had met before. Six people, two of them slaves without the freedom of movement the others had - and they were going to find one man in a city of who knew how many people!

This was the problem with cities and towns - too many people who didn't know one another, crowded into far too small a space. Of course it let people like this roam around, hurting innocents.

Six people present, for six victims. Well, five and one twice - and she'd lived. Azarion was the only one who was on both of those lists - unless the unknown girl who was present had been a victim, too. Which might help, if they had two people who could describe him.

He just hoped that whoever was asking questions would be able to phrase them in a way that Azarion could answer and he could translate.

 

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As they began arriving, Alexius realized he knew them all. Or, he met them all at least once before. They did not all know each other, but he knew them all. Some more than others, of course. He only just met Lucius and Jason today, but still… he knew them. Alexius had told Lexus he was having guests later and let it be up to his son, whether he wanted to come home or not. Although he might prefer Lexus did, with a killer on the lose. During the day, Alexius had gone to work at the warehouse, but made sure one of the other guards was on duty tonight. Then he’d gone home to tidy up the insula, picking up a few jars of wine on the way.

 He’d alerted Didia too, who spoke of bringing Theo. He didn’t tell her much, other than that another young woman had been attacked and they suspected it was the same who attacked Didia. And they were going to really do something about it now. He had promised her he’d look into it and he had not forgotten, but it had been difficult to work on his own until now. And now he was far from alone and he suspected they’d need all the help they could get.

 He had placed the jars of wine within reach, cups on the table – Didia made sure he could borrow some, along with another bench from her insula, so they could all sit down. Alexius didn’t really care about rank anyway. Slaves and free Romans would be at an equal level here. They were all after the same thing, after all.

 Lucius was clearly the mastermind here though, and he began talking first. Why they were all here and what they needed to do. Alexius nodded, seated next to Lucius as he was.

 “I think we’re all here, yes. Please, take seat?” Alexius said and thought he should introduce everyone, since he knew them… “You all know who I am. Lucius here is a vigile and we both know the young lady who was attacked just days ago. He is not here as a vigile though.” He pointed out, just to be sure they could all relax. He knew especially Didia had cursed them at least once or twice. But Lucius seemed like a good guy, “Didia is my neighbour and was attacked a while ago, Theodorus there stitched her up right after. Azarion has encountered the attacker too. And his friend did, with a terrible outcome for her.” He paused, inhaling a breath, giving Azarion a look. Poor guy, he could not imagine what it must be like. And then to be attacked himself too… fucking sick monster… “Jason is Azarion’s cousin, speaking for him. And Jason also met the girl who was attacked two days ago. I think… that’s it? Maybe we should start going through what we do know?”

@Sara @Chevi @Sharpie

Edited by Atrice
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Didia had merely quirked an eyebrow at Alexius when he said that there was a meeting tonight. She had been on her way out for deliveries by the time she'd seen him and hadn't much time to actually think over what he'd said. When she did pause to think, as she was climbing the stairs up to the top floor to drag Theo out of his cave, it made her stop. She hadn't thought much of the attack over the last few months. It seemed like years and years ago now, and she had gotten through it with a gritted jaw and perseverance. Even the nightmares had faded. Why on earth was Alexius stirring all of this up again now?

Ducking through the assembled group as she made her way into Alexius' room, she cast a look around. It almost seemed like a scene from a poem; the most motley of motley crews. It didn't explain why they'd all been brought together though. She stood near Theo, casting him confused glances although she doubted the poor man knew much more than her. She was pulling out the various fruits she'd pilfered from their stock at the end of the market, setting them on the table as the tall man spoke. She hadn't registered his uniform. It was only when Alexius made some awkward introductions that she realised what he was. Her face went into what could could only be described as a comical glare and she jabbed her finger in Lucius' direction. "You don't get any apples." She glanced to Alexius, warily. "He's a vigile whether he's here as one or not." She trusted the troops as far as she could throw them. They'd done shit all to help with her brother and his dealings, and even less for the break-ins at the warehouse. She wouldn't be surprised if they, themselves, had done it. 

The fact that somebody had been killed was new information though and she cast a glance at  the small man frowning at the room. She self consciously wound an arm around her waist. "We know that he's mad." She offered with an eyeroll, "And that he likes to make people bleed, not any more than that." She cast a suspicious glance at Lucius, Jason and Alexius in turn. "Why the sudden interest now? He attacked me well over a year ago."

 

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Azarion had tried to find Safinia's killer for more than a year. Nothing. Not even Marcus could get any results from the vigiles. And then he had been attacked, and seen the man and... still nothing. And now, suddenly, in the middle of Saturnalia, he was standing in Alexius' apartment with a bunch of other people who all... knew about him? There had been other victims he already knew this. But it was shocking to see this weird assembly of people, all here for the same goal. And he was ready to help, if it meant he got to kill the guy.

Marcus had given him a letter, and he had handed it over to the tall man who was with the vigiles. Useless bunch of bastards. He wondered if they would come to any conclusions tonight. If all the City had to show for catching a murderer was one vigile, a medicus, a fruit-seller woman, two slaves, and... well, Alexius, then this was going to be one long damn hunt...

He signed for Jason to translate.

He didn't want to fight me. I confronted him, and he was trying to get away. Coward.

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Theo was not sure what he was in for when Didia came to get him from his apartment. He was trying to sleep off some of Saturnalia, but this sounded serious. Now he was in Alexius' room with a whole munch of strangers, and he was still not entirely sure why he was here. Sure, he had stitched up Didia after the attack, back when it happened... but where these people really planning on finding that attacker no, in the entire city of Rome?

Apparently, they were.

Theo glanced at Didia. He remembered how hard it had been for her, and he remembered her injury well too. She was none too happy about the vigiles being involved, even if it was just one man. He cleared his throat, not knowing how much he was going to be able to contribute.

"The... injury I have seen, it was... clean. And healed well. That means, whatever weapon he uses, it is sharp. And he keeps it clean. That's... all I've got."

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"Is she Sarmatian?" Jason whispered quietly to Azarion in their own tongue, amused, before speaking a little louder in accented Latin, "He didn't want to fight, Azarion confronted him and he just wanted to get away. So he's a coward."

He shrugged, looking around the ragtag group. "I'm guessing that nobody knew about anyone else who'd been attacked by him, because if he got you over a year ago, when he killed Safinia, and nobody's been able to figure out who it is, it means he goes for people who don't know him - and it sounds like he attacks in different areas of the city, too. It's not surprising he hasn't been caught yet."

Apart from being here to translate for Azarion, he wasn't entirely sure what connection he had to any of this and sighed, shutting up again and looking back to the patrician vigile.

 

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This was good. This was working. Things were connecting to each other now, and they had more knowledge than before. And more people. Sure, not all of them were equally enthusiastic.

 "You don't get any apples. He's a vigile whether he's here as one or not."

Ovinia would like her.

 "Fair. I hope I'll have a chance to convince you otherwise." For now, he would just have to do all he could to keep all of this together. He could worry about the reputation of the vigiles later.

Lucius unrolled the map on Alexius' table, and weighed it down with some of the utensils.

"Jason is right. No one had figured that it was the same person, before. The gods know, this city has enough crime to go around." It was his entire job to know that, after all. "I marked the map where the attacks happened... But I can't see a pattern, other than places away from the main streets. You are welcome to take a look. But yes, I think we need to pool all we know about him. Maybe try to figure out who... or what he is."

Lucius stood back, drinking some wine, and opening up the writing tablet to make a new list.

"We now he is a man. My height, dark hair, light eyes. Carries a knife, or knives, that are sharp and kept take care of. He doesn't seek out fights" he glanced at Azarion. "And likes to make people bleed, more than killing them. Mostly women, as far as we know. Goes hunting in various parts of the city, for people he doesn't know. The only place we know he'd visited more than once was the brothel. He hunts like a predator, for the blood." He frowned deeply, tapping the stylus against his lips. "There was something else. The lemon scented oil, the broken vial. Who was that?"

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"Me." Didia shot him a glare, folding her arms across her chest defiantly. "He dropped a glass pot, I picked it up - went to give it back to him and he pulled a knife. He said it was valuable, it stunk of lemon," She rolled her eyes, "I pulled a knife on his balls..." Her eyes widened and she shot another glower at Lucius, "You didn't hear that." 

It was strange, recounting the story. It felt like a lifetime ago and fortunately for Didia, the terror of the memory had faded although the details remained clear. "What else...what else..." She tapped her finger to her chin, "He said he didn't have a wife and his name was Gaius,She rolled his eyes, "And that he lived close to where we were - the via Lata, by Puglio's bakery. He said he had a shop." She shrugged. All of it could have been lies, but it didn't seem so. "He said if I screamed he'd cut out my tongue..." She winced and looked across at the glowering small man, presuming that's what had happened to him - hence why he needed a translator, "Sorry..." 

She glanced back at the men. "You still haven't said why you care now."

 

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Edited by Sara
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It was a pity that the monster would not seek out a fight. Alexius would love to pick one with him! But he tried to keep up with what everyone were saying. And there was a lot of talk! He supposed he was here for the muscle and for the support of everyone, because that’s what he did best. He poured wine into all cups on the table, gesturing that everyone could just take one if they wanted, while someone else was talking. Lucius summed it all up, what they knew so far, and Didia mentioned more that she knew. And then she repeated her question from earlier, which he thought he told to begin with, but maybe they forgot?

 “Because, stupid as it is, someone of a higher rank has been attacked. Apparently, that gets the attention of the vigiles better than anything else.” Alexius said to Didia, rolling his eyes, “No offense Lucius, but this can’t be the only time the vigiles have been alerted of such attacks or murders. They just don’t respond, or maybe they gave up too soon? But now a young lady that both I and Lucius know personally was attacked just days ago, and Lucius clearly has the wits to actually do something about it.” He said, he wanted to make it clear that he would put his trust in Lucius. If Ovinia did, and she trusted Alexius too, then Alexius would trust whomever she trusted. Friends of his friends were also his friends, or something along those lines.

 Time to get back to business though, “Maybe you should look into notes… what are they called? Records? That the vigiles have. See if anyone else tried to get their attention, but failed.” Alexius suggested to Lucius, “And then we need to see if we can find someone, who has a shop near the Via Lata, who has expensive lemon scented oil and also access to sharp knives.”

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Theo could tell Didia was on edge. She had to remember things she probably wanted to forget, which was bad enough - but she was not happy about Lucius and the vigiles either. She did not trust them, and why should she? They did not help her before. And there it was, the big question. Why didn't they? Did someone rich really need to get injured before anyone paid attention to the monster prowling the streets? Theo reached out and touched Didia's hand, as a gesture of support.

"Lemons... he is either rich, or he deals with wealthy people." he noted. Lemon oil was not a thing for the plebes, usually. But then what? There had to be something there, a clue, but he could not quite put his finger on it.

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Well, the woman Didia didn't seem to be in a good mood, judging by the way she'd folded her arms and was glaring at everybody. "I pulled a knife on his balls..."

Jason's eyes widened. "I like her," he told Azarion quietly in Sarmatian.

"He has knives - and can carry them around Rome without attracting attention. And they're well-kept and sharp. And has lemon-scented oil - he carries that, he doesn't use it himself, if he dropped a pot of it," he said, thinking aloud. "He said he has a shop - though he probably isn't called Gaius. Half the men in Rome are called Gaius, it's a name someone would choose if they didn't want to give their real name away." It was a stupid name too, like most Roman names were.

"He has a shop, he has knives, he has scented oil..." He tapped his fingers on the table, thinking. "He deals with wealthy people - the areas he goes to to hurt people are places he'd stand out if he was rich." Like Lucius stood out among this motley crew despite his clothing, just by his bearing and accent.

What sort of person would have dealings with someone like Jason's master, and would be able to carry all that?

"He's a hairdresser or barber or something like it," he said, thoughtfully. Maybe he was riding the wrong horse - maybe he was in the wrong place entirely - but it sounded plausible. Far more plausible the more he considered it.

 

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Posted (edited)

"I pulled a knife on his balls..."

"I like her,"

I do too. Azarion smiled a little. The woman seemed the most competent of the whole bunch. Except maybe Alexius. But it was easier to be a warrior when you were built like one.

"He said if I screamed he'd cut out my tongue... Sorry..." 

Azarion's look darkened. What was it with Romans and cutting out tongues? Fucker. If the gods favored Azarion, he would get to do just that to the man.

The question remained: why didn't anyone care until now? Azarion hated that, because it was the right thing to ask. No one had given a shit about Safinia's death. Not the vigiles, not anyone. And now that some other rich woman was attacked, suddenly they were up in arms. Safinia had deserved better. He just hoped he could take it all out on the murderer, because if he couldn't, he sure as hell was going to take it out on the vigiles.

Jason's mind seemed to be occupied with more practical matters.

"He has a shop, he has knives, he has scented oil... He deals with wealthy people - the areas he goes to to hurt people are places he'd stand out if he was rich... He's a hairdresser or barber or something like it," 

Azarion tilted his head. Judging by the stunned looks around, he was probably on to something. But he'd lost Azarion in the process.

What's that?...

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"I pulled a knife on his balls... You didn't hear that." 

"Oh I most definitely did" Lucius smirked at Didia, surprised "I applaud you for it." He was not about to arrest a woman for defending herself. He just wished she had cut said balls clear off.

Didia insisted on asking her question again. Luckily, Alexius stepped in to answer.

“Because, stupid as it is, someone of a higher rank has been attacked. Apparently, that gets the attention of the vigiles better than anything else.”

Lucius sighed. He was not wrong, but he hated it.

“No offense Lucius, but this can’t be the only time the vigiles have been alerted of such attacks or murders. They just don’t respond, or maybe they gave up too soon? But now a young lady that both I and Lucius know personally was attacked just days ago, and Lucius clearly has the wits to actually do something about it.” 

He didn't really have the wits. He just had the sheer thirst for revenge. But he was not about to point that out.

“Maybe you should look into notes… what are they called? Records? That the vigiles have. See if anyone else tried to get their attention, but failed.”

"I can do that" Lucius nodded. "I am the first one to admit the vigiles have a whole lot to improve on. But I'm not here in an official capacity. Let's just deal with this one monster for now."

“And then we need to see if we can find someone, who has a shop near the Via Lata, who has expensive lemon scented oil and also access to sharp knives.”

"Lemons... he is either rich, or he deals with wealthy people." 

In the end, it was Jason who put the pieces together. Lucius already knew the young body slave was intelligent, probably beyond what he was given credit for. But his conclusion, after lining up the details, still hit Lucius like a lightning bolt.

"He's a hairdresser or barber or something like it,"

"By the gods... fuck, you are right." he stared at Jason with wide eyes. How did they not see it before? "He's a barber. He has to be."

And if he was, the search had just gotten a lot less impossible.

"Jason, you're a genius. We can find him."

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A barber? Didia blinked and glanced back at Theo with wide eyes, confused. It made sense. Then again, surely the man could have been any number of professions; a masseuse at a thermae, a body slave who groomed his master, even a fellow medicus or a healer with an oil for a wound. "They seem very convinced." She mumbled to her favourite medicus, rolling her eyes dramatically. 

"He could be anything else, as well." She interjected more loudly into the group and then flashed a grin at the slave who'd suggested it, "No offence of course. Good idea but...seems too easy." The man had purposefully misled her as well. Maybe the oil was just another ruse? 

"But how do you even find the right barber? You can't go knocking on every barber's door in Rome." She glared at Lucius for a moment, "Unless your vigiles colleagues suddenly find some enthusiasm and work ethic." 

 

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Well Alexius wasn't more happy about this than any of the others. Firstly, he considered Ovinia as much more than a young woman he sometimes had to bodyguard. Not that her father knew, or should know, but that's how it was. So it was very bad that she'd been attacked, if he could have prevented it. That was very bad in itself. And then the fact that it took an attack on a woman like her, for someone to actually take notice and alert the vigiles. Of course it could have happened before, but they just didn't figure anything out, but that was for Lucius to work out another time. But it was bad that if someone of a lesser rank in Rome was attacked, nothing happened. It took attacking a higher rank woman like Ovinia, apparently. And that was stupid. Even Lucius knew it. Alexius hated the ranks in Rome, he didn't see the point. But he saw the point in drinking a bit of wine after he said his piece. 

They began piecing it together, slowly, but surely. It was Jason who suggested the man had to be a barber or a hairdresser... well of course! Hadn't he also discussed this with Didia, back when she'd been attacked, but Alexius didn't know much about barbers or something like that. He either did it himself or had it done at the thermae. He didn't go to a specific shop. 

Didia was not so convinced though, claiming the attacker could be anything else and this was too easy. And how would they find a barber anyway? Alexius was usually good at looking at the bright side of things though, so he had to do that... again.

"Sometimes it's the simplest answer that's the right one. Maybe Jason is right. It's worth finding out. And if we're wrong... we'll keep looking." Alexius then promised. If they didn't try, they'd never get anywhere, right? And Alexius had tried. He had just been on his own before - and he had learned quite a few things. Now he was not alone, it might be even easier. He thought it all over. In Rome, there were often certain streets dedicated to one special trade. 

"We can't go knocking on every barber's door, but we can take a look at them. Ask around. See if anyone stands out. This one has to stand out, somehow." He just had to. You didn't walk around attacking and killing people in Rome and just acted like a normal person the rest of the time... did you?

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Theo blinked at Jason's words. A barber. It... made a lot of sense. Glancing over at Didia, however, he could tell that she was not as impressed as some of the others.

"They seem very convinced." 

"Well, it's not a bad..."

"He could be anything else, as well. No offence of course. Good idea but...seems too easy." 

"Sometimes it's the simplest answer that's the right one. Maybe Jason is right. It's worth finding out. And if we're wrong... we'll keep looking." 

It did seem like an almost perfect fit. The knives, the scent, the access... maybe even the blood. Gods knew most men had been nicked by a barber before. Theo frowned. He could just grow a beard from now on, he was Greek anyway...

"But how do you even find the right barber? You can't go knocking on every barber's door in Rome. Unless your vigiles colleagues suddenly find some enthusiasm and work ethic." 

"We can't go knocking on every barber's door, but we can take a look at them. Ask around. See if anyone stands out. This one has to stand out, somehow."

"As I understand, he has seen some of you." Theo noted, glancing at Didia. She could not be a part of this. She shouldn't, anyway. "And I think the vigiles asking after him could be too obvious..."

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Azarion looked blank, the girl (woman!) Didia looked... inscrutable, everyone else looked stunned, surprised and then had that look of 'oh, it was obvious' that people had after they were shown how the trick was done.

He returned the girl's grin with one of his own. "Well, it's a possibility, but it might not be the only one - but it's somewhere to start," he said, and caught Azarion's gesture of confusion.

"You've lived among Romans for eight years... a barber is what they call the man who comes to shave them," he told him quietly. Their own people had no real need of such a thing, although they kept their own beards and moustaches neatly trimmed. It wasn't the same, and any facial hair made Romans think someone was a barbarian. Except Jason was sure the Greeks had beards and the Romans didn't think they were barbarians, so obviously they just wanted to confuse people.

Some of us are slaves, he thought. Not so easy for us to go around asking questions, either. Though he was allowed to go and visit Azarion when Tiberius didn't need him - which was actually quite a lot of freedom because he took his duties as a senator seriously, which meant that he attended pretty much every Senate meeting and slaves weren't allowed in the Curia.

He could look and ask questions - if he was careful about it. They all had to be careful about it.

"If none of us knew anything about anyone else - except perhaps you, Alexius - then perhaps there are others looking, too," he said. How to find any other victims or investigators, though? There was a question for the gods!

 

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"You've lived among Romans for eight years... a barber is what they call the man who comes to shave them," 

Oh. Those people. Azarion blinked. Yes, that made sense. The others seemed to mostly agree, although Didia was not very enthusiastic about it. 

Was this it, then? Did they just figure out who... or at least what... the killer was?

"If none of us knew anything about anyone else - except perhaps you, Alexius - then perhaps there are others looking, too," 

Azarion huffed. Of course. Probably a whole lot of someones, all thinking they, or their loved ones had been the victim of a random incident. He remembered the long months he had been trying to find something, anything, to lead him to his man. He signed to Jason, more for his own peace of mind than anything.

I was looking for a year. But I can't ask questions.

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A great many things eluded Artemon, chief amongst them how to grow his wealth. A bit further down the list was his brother's whereabouts; it was Iophon's turn to procure (and pay for) nourishment and Artemon was hungry. He and his growling stomach waited for a very, very long time (more like ten minutes) for his twin to come home, and when it didn't happen, they decided to go on a hunt.

None of their neighbours on the top floor had seen him. Going down another flight of stairs, same response. Going down yet another floor, Artemon made changes to his approach.

He let himself into Alexius' abode with all the confidence of somebody who had been there at least once before, failing to account for the possibility of coming in at a rather inconvenient time, and loudly greeted his neighbour. "Alexius! It is I, Artem--" His voice vanished into the ether as he found himself joining a large group of people - so large that it almost looked like the flat was bursting at the seams. There was a couple of familiar faces - he'd crossed paths with them frequently on his way in and out of the insula  -, and a couple of unfamiliar faces. Blinking owlishly, Artemon looked round, first left to right and then right to left, a look of confusion on his face.

Iophon wasn't one of the faces, so that was one location crossed out, but Artemon didn't turn tail and leave. Oh no. Instead he broke into a grin and clapped his hands, ready to mingle. "You didn't tell me you were throwing a party!" He beamed at Alexius, only half noticing the lack of food and drink one usually saw at parties, even the poorest ones. "Who or what are we celebrating?"

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Didia did not seem as convinced as Lucius was. She had a lot of apprehension about the vigiles, and probably this gathering in general, which was understandable. She had been attacked before and nothing happened to find the culprit. The vigiles had a long way to go to make up for that.

"But how do you even find the right barber? You can't go knocking on every barber's door in Rome. Unless your vigiles colleagues suddenly find some enthusiasm and work ethic." 

"We can and we will if we have to. Some of us do have the enthusiasm." he noted, knowing he sounded a little defensive. But she was right, the vigiles knocking on doors was not the best way of going about this, unless they wanted the man tipped off.

"Sometimes it's the simplest answer that's the right one. Maybe Jason is right. It's worth finding out. And if we're wrong... we'll keep looking. We can't go knocking on every barber's door, but we can take a look at them. Ask around. See if anyone stands out. This one has to stand out, somehow." 

"We know what he looks like" Lucius nodded. "That narrows it down a little. And we could start in the area around the Via Lata, on the off chance he did not lie. But you're right, it can't be an official investigation. We need to be smart about this."

"As I understand, he has seen some of you. And I think the vigiles asking after him could be too obvious..."

"If none of us knew anything about anyone else - except perhaps you, Alexius - then perhaps there are others looking, too," 

"I can go look at the records of the vigiles. See if anyone has reported similar attacks that went... ignored." Lucius nodded. "Someone should go to the brothel and see if he has been there lately. Maybe find a clue of who he is, or make sure we know when he shows up next time..." He tapped the stylus on the table again. "Maybe some..."

It was that moment when the door burst open. Lucius jumped, looking at the young man who sauntered in. 

"You didn't tell me you were throwing a party! Who or what are we celebrating?"

Lucius turned to look at Alexius, with an unspoken question in his eyes.

Oh, bother.

@Sharpie @Sara @Atrice @Liv

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"Alexius, do you want to visit the brothel?" Didia offered to her neighbour with a wide beaming grin and then glanced behind her at Theo, tilting her face up with an innocent expression; "Or Theo, perhaps you would like to?" She was hoping to make her medicus blush and a grin split on her face. 

The grin was wiped off her face though as he door busted in. She was half expecting a unit of uniformed vigiles to storm through the room but instead, blinking owlishly, was one of her other upstairs neighbours. Oh Artemon. Everybody looked questioningly around the room, confused. She liked Artemon, he seemed sweet in an utterly dopey way. She cleared her throat and bustled through the throng of people, moving to put her arm around his shoulders. "It's a wake, there was a funeral." She gave him a sad expression. What better way to get somebody out than bringing up the dead? "It's so very sad, so sad." She cleared her throat to suggest to the others that they should  play along. Some dramatic wailing or tears wouldn't be amiss. 

"Why don't we go and get some more food from my rooms? I think I have some spare figs you know." She offered the young man and cleared her throat, "We could put it on the walls of the via lata." She muttered to Alexius, "...if anybody can write better than me. Ask if anybody's seen anything." She glanced back to Artemon; "Oh we're talking about her missing purse, don't worry." 

 

TAG: @Atrice @Sharpie @Chevi @Liv

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Theo was right, obviously Didia and Azarion were not going to ask questions or look for the man. If he recognized them, what would he do? And if they saw him, how would they react? He remembered too well how Didia reacted after the attack, when he took her out to try and teach her a bit of self-defense. She was stronger than she looked, that one! 

Jason suggested others might be looking for the attacker too. Lucius suggested where to start, near the Via Lita and of course they had to be smart! That's why they were doing this, gathering everyone they knew like this. Lucius would look at the records of the vigiles, as Alexius suggested. And then of course someone should go to the brothel. 

"I went to the brothel once already, meeting that girl there... I can go again. See if I can find her again." Not anything else, Alexius wasn't going there to find pleasure. He'd never paid for stuff like that and he wasn't about to start now. But before Lucius could say more, Artemon suddenly showed up, apparently thinking they were having a party. Alexius opened his mouth to greet his friend, but before he could say anything, Didia intervened and tried convincing Artemon of some odd lie and she expected them all to follow her. He doubted that would make Artemon leave. He'd just be more curious. And if he told this to his brother, then it might be all over Rome in no time. In fact, even if he didn't tell his brother, it would get out anyway. Artemon was like that. 

He gave Didia a look, "Maybe he could help us? The more the... merrier?" 

@Sara @Sharpie @Chevi @Liv

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They were slowly beginning to work out the details. That was good. Theo liked practical things. Having steps to go through to catch the killer, that was something he could work with.

"Alexius, do you want to visit the brothel? Or Theo, perhaps you would like to?" 

Didia grinned at him and Theo blushed, despite his better judgment. "I can go too. I have worked there before." Every once in a while he would be summoned to help with an injury or an illness, and he did not mind helping out.

Before they could plan more, Artemon marched into the room. Didia immediately tried to get rid of him. Theo wondered if it would work. Sure, Artemon was not the sharpest knife, but would he really believe...?

@Sara@Sharpie@Liv@Atrice

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Now Artemon didn't want to be mean, but this was one of the less lively parties he had ever attended - or so he thought until the kind fruit lady told him otherwise. His mouth widened into a perfect O-shape, and he glanced at the other guests with the appropriate amount of mortification. "Oh, very very sad indeed!" he nodded, managing to look contrite for all of two seconds before curiosity took over again. "Who was it that died?" Huh, Alexius' son wasn't there... and neither was Iophon...

Could it be?! That one of these upstanding young men was now awaiting Osiris' judgement in the afterlife?! But surely somebody would have told him if that were the case!

His momentary plight was interrupted by Didia's offer of figs. His stomach growled its agreement; a man couldn't very well mourn on an empty one. Nodding blankly, Artemon leant into the arm around his shoulders and looked at the others again. Funny how none of them had torn out their hair or stained their cheeks with tears! In fact, Alexius didn't look sad at all. If something had happened to young Lexus he wouldn't be acting so normal. Increasingly confused, Artemon tipped his head to the side like a puppy and turned his attention to Didia, "A missing purse?", then to Alexius. "Help you?" But what about the figs he had been promised? Willing his stomach to be quiet and listen, Artemon cleared his throat. "So you want my help finding a missing purse, is that it?"

@Sharpie @Sara @Atrice @Chevi

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